Review Article | Published:

Scleroderma renal crisis and renal involvement in systemic sclerosis

Nature Reviews Nephrology volume 12, pages 678691 (2016) | Download Citation

  • A Corrigendum to this article was published on 02 January 2018

Abstract

Scleroderma renal crisis (SRC) is a rare, potentially life-threatening complication that affects 2–15% of patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc, also known as scleroderma). SRC typically presents in patients with early, rapidly progressive, diffuse cutaneous SSc within the first 3–5 years after the onset of a non-Raynaud sign or symptom. SRC is characterized by an acute, usually symptomatic increase in blood pressure, a rise in serum creatinine levels, oliguria and thrombotic microangiopathy in about 50% of patients. The prognosis of SRC substantially improved in the 1980s with the introduction of angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors for rapid blood pressure control, with additional antihypertensive agents as required. However, the survival of patients with SRC can still be improved. Current patient survival is 70–82% at 1 year, but decreases to 50–60% at 5 years despite dialysis support. Patients with SRC who show no signs of renal functional recovery despite timely blood pressure control are candidates for transplantation. In this Review, we discuss progress made in the identification and proactive management of patients at risk of SRC and make recommendations aimed at optimizing management for those who progress to chronic kidney failure.

Key points

  • Renal dysfunction associated with vasculopathy is a common pathology in systemic sclerosis (SSc), and usually exhibits a benign course

  • Scleroderma renal crisis (SRC) is rare — it affects 5–15% of patients, according to studies published in the past 20 years; however, a 2015 case series suggests that the incidence of SRC has decreased to 2.4%

  • Predictive factors for SRC include anti-RNA polymerase III antibodies, diffuse cutaneous disease, tendon friction rubs, and arthritis; glucocorticoid treatment is a risk factor for SRC

  • SRC should be differentiated from ANCA-positive, rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis, as treatment regimens and patient management are different

  • Control of SRC-associated hypertension with angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors in patients with SSc improves outcomes; however, this treatment does not prevent SRC, and might increase SRC-associated mortality

  • Although prognosis improved with the introduction of ACE inhibitors in the 1990s, SRC remains a major risk factor for mortality in SSc; endothelin receptor antagonists might further improve patient outcomes

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Change history

  • Corrected online 02 January 2018

    In the version of this article originally published in print and online, the author list was incorrect. The correct author list is Thasia G. Woodworth, Yossra A. Suliman, Wendi Li, Daniel E. Furst and Philip Clements, and has been corrected in the online version.

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Acknowledgements

Y.A.S. is funded by an Egyptian government scholarship programme of joint supervision in collaboration with D.E.F and the Division of Rheumatology, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA. We thank Gabriel Valdivia (University of California, Los Angeles, USA) for administrative assistance.

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Affiliations

  1. Division of Rheumatology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, 100 Veterans Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90025, USA.

    • Thasia G. Woodworth
    • , Yossra A. Suliman
    • , Wendi Li
    • , Daniel E. Furst
    •  & Philip Clements
  2. Rheumatology and Rehabilitation Department, Assiut University Hospital, Assiut, Egypt.

    • Yossra A. Suliman

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Contributions

D.E.F. and T.G.W. wrote the article and provided substantial contribution to discussion of content. D.E.F., T.G.W. and P.C. reviewed and/or edited the manuscript before submission. All authors researched data for the article.

Competing interests

D.E.F. received research funding and consultation fees, and is on the advisory boards for Actelion, Gilead Sciences Inc., United Biosource Corporation (UCB), Pfizer, and Novartis. Y.A.S., T.G.W. and P.C. declare no competing interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Daniel E. Furst or Philip Clements.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nrneph.2016.124